Written by: Moira
June 2, 2022


You too huh?
Well, the least I can do for you is give you some advice along the way.
These caverns are filled with traps and tricks meant to harm you.
You can avoid most of them.
But there are five poisons required for you to pass through.
They may be fun colors, and some you may have heard of before.
But I promise that if you make it, these concoctions will leave you changed.
You have been warned.
Godspeed soldier.

There’s a poison within me.

They tell you about the first poison. They tell you that it’s going to make you better. They tell you that everything is going to be okay. But will it really? It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be okay. In fact, you are terrified as things are done to you, needles drill into your flesh with spotlights of white, penetrating light highlighting the atrocity. You were a child, but you were old enough to know that they should’ve been more transparent with you. You were old enough to advocate for yourself, but who would’ve listened to a child. All the words in the world won’t make sense when they are not prefaced with an honest word.

“You’re going to be fine.”

How? How am I going to be fine? MY life fell apart at the seams and the doctors came in with platitudes before performing surgeries on ME that I didn’t even know about. Surgeries that scared me, surgeries that changed me.

I hated my life. I don’t know how you feel about yours. That tube was simultaneously my lifeline and my anchor. It’s like a mermaid being drowned in seawater. You know you can’t float, but you can’t swim. What then?

I’m poisoning myself.

The second poison is warned about only on the depths of Reddit forums. It’s found in the tales of terrible people who receive the comeuppance they deserve. I found the poison entering my veins when I picked up the phone hoping for the notifications scrawled across the shiny glass to be from the people I actually cared about. But no, I’m not lucky enough for that. The poison is bitter and it leaves you feeling even worse than you already felt. You were already reckoning with the fact that life as you know it is over and you’re left sitting in a bed while your phone overloads with phony people and their hashtags turning you into a phenomenon. There’s nothing you can do to combat it, people take your story of heartache and a tumultuous war against death and turn it into engagement on their stories.

You’ll want to reach out to those who you care about. Granted, this is a hard time for them and they are having to deal with losing a friend, you have to be gracious with them.

“Do I though?”

NO! The only person you need to be gracious with is yourself. After all, everyone else isn’t dying. It doesn’t even feel like it. That’s your cross to bear.

What’s going on?

The third poison is subtle and leaves you with an ongoing tingling sensation. It ticks inside of you like a bomb about to splatter you across the walls. Time, the sick being it is, has it’s way with you. A lion caged by cells that hope to pounce on it. It’s the most manageable of the poisons but it sure isn’t fun. There are ways to alleviate it’s slow draining effect on you. Common activities include tv binges, walking laps, puzzles, card and video games, YouTube, and just talking. But those only last for so long. This poison gets caught in your throat, it’s syrupy texture chokes you and leaves you begging for air. It’s too cruel to give up though. It’s two hands grasp you by the neck, strangling you till your will to live has just about run out. Then, it vanishes. Flying by and leaving you stranded with no clue of what just happened. It’s a tricky one that way.

My vision is getting fuzzy.

Similar to the last one, this poison is small. All it takes is a drop. and it seems manageable at first. You feel as if this isn’t going to affect you in the long run, but you can’t shake the headache and the clenching of your heart that renders you motionless eventually. Almost exactly how cancer acts, this poison eats you up from the inside. It’s acidic nature eats at everything you once held to be true about yourself. It takes your self-worth and burns it up like paper, the flame spotlighting everything you hate. Your bald head and lack of eyebrows glow back at you, the shiny oil of your skin reflecting the firelight. The flabs that have developed from such a sedentary lifestyle swallow you whole and the hope of chemotherapies effects fighting this are taken away by a well-meaning but misguided nutritionist. Your mind begins to weaken from a lack of stimulation, after all police dramas can do so little in terms of education. And then, when you least expect it, your eyes go. You don’t see things right anymore. You look at yourself as merely a walking corpse waiting to fester and die. Eventually it gets better, but only years of development and exercise can heal the damage this one causes.

Please stop.

Once you’ve drunk all your other concoctions, there’s one left. It’s shiny and dull, white, and black. It’s so clear you can see your reflection in the glass and so opaque you can’t see past the first layer of murky ink. It’s ashy in taste but also sugary. It leaves you with a high and then a crash. This poison is, to put it simply, the future. What lies ahead. Life after cancer is not all that it is made out to be, from either stance. There is so much beauty to be found. The beautiful sights that you’ll see, the scrumptious food you’ll taste, the life-giving friendships that you will make. There’s so much more beyond the four white walls and dry air of the hospital. But, there’s a reason that you were kept in those four walls. Outside enemies lie in wait. Physical therapy seeks to tear every muscle open fiber by fiber until you are made new. Invasive questions reopen old wounds and leave you flayed out like a salmon to be analyzed by a science class. And most dangerously is the memory loss. My advice to you is write it down, everything you see, feel, think, sense. Write it down. I’m two years out, and I would give anything to have a peek at those emotions. I want—no, I need to feel again. I am so disconnected from the caverns of cancer. I’m trapped in a cave, rocks collapsed from the ceiling trapping me. I can’t go back, but I can leave you with this.

Stay on your toes. Keep moving forward. Guard your heart. And most of all, Beware the poisons.

I just want out.

I really hope you made it out.

It’s lonely.
The caves are kinda dark.
I just want to drink the poison